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Berman enlists former diplomats to refute Sherman's criticism of trips

October 11, 2012 | 12:35 pm

Rep. Howard Berman announced backing from former secretaries of State George P. Shultz and Madeleine Albright. Berman's rival for a San Fernando Valley congressional district seat, fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, has been critical of Berman's frequent overseas travel
Hoping to counter his rival's criticisms of his overseas travels, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) reached back into history Thursday and announced endorsements from former secretaries of State George P. Shultz and Madeleine Albright.

Shultz and Albright also released a letter stating that Berman's taxpayer-financed travels were done "in service to our nation's security and best interests."  International travel, they added, "is required" for lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (on which Berman is the senior Democrat) in order to "keep America strong and the American people safe."

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who is battling Berman for the same San Fernando Valley congressional district seat this fall, has repeatedly criticized Berman for taking many overseas trips. 

On Thursday, Sherman's campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, said the "large majority of [Berman's] trips are just luxury junkets that serve no important government function; 136 of his 176 trips have been funded by corporations or other private interests." And about 90% of the trips were made before Berman became a prominent member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Skelton said.

Shultz was secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan administration and Albright filled the post for Bill Clinton. Clinton has endorsed Sherman.


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-- Jean Merl

Photo: Reps. Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman.  Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times